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Ferment: The 15-minute interview – Chester Osborn


Joanna Goodman Joanna Goodman
Chester Osborn
Chester Osborn

D'Arenberg are one of the great family estates not just of their own McLaren Vale region, but of Australia, and Chester is one of the industry's true characters. Taking over the reins of the family firm from his father in 1984, he has taken the wines from strength to strength, making the most of the plots of old vines that his father d'Arry had the foresight to preserve for future generations.

1. How did you first get into wine? Or when did you know that you wanted to work in the family business?

Well….stealing it from the winery when I was 7 years old or my parents giving me some to try. But it was when Len Evans was staying at our house and I was sitting on his knee. He asked me what kind of wine I was going to make and I replied ‘a yummy one’. Len was a very intimidating man so I didn’t want to answer that I was not going to be a winemaker. Actually I have always wanted to be a winemaker all my life.

2. What's the most memorable bottle you've drunk?

I suppose the most memorable is not necessarily the best. The most memorable would be an 1898 Lafite and a 1927 Bollinger and then the best wine I think I have ever drunk was a 1967 Barbaresco from a producer that does not exist today.

3. Do you swap wine with other producers? If so with whom?

Yes definitely, all the First Families wineries for sure. To be honest there are too many to mention.

4. Your cellar is about to be flooded. What bottle would you save?

Probably any of the Domaine Romanée Contis.

5. Who would you most like to share a bottle with?

This is such a hard one…..Gandhi would definitely be up there back many years ago.

6. If you could travel back in time and redo one vintage which one would it be?

Well, 1963, I was only 1 year old so I didn't really do it the first time but it was such a great vintage. I would have definitely loved to have done that one.

7. If your winemaking philosophy could be described in three words what would they be?

Tight, mineral and terroir.

8. What is your most memorable food and wine match?

I have had so many but a recent one was a 2009 Ironstone Pressings GSM matched with a mild duck curry from The Cinnamon Club in London.

9. What would be your desert-island wine?

Well that is easy: 1947 Cheval Blanc.

10. If you weren't a winemaker, what would you be?

Photographer or artist, sculptor or singer.

11. What is your favourite book or piece of music?

So many pieces of music aren't there…. Pink Floyd would be right up there and it's probably Echoes. The latest Science journals, they just keep getting more exciting than the previous.

12. Do you have a hobby outside of wine?

Architecture, art.

13. If you could only work with one grape variety, what would it be and why?

Probably shiraz because of all the amazing shiraz resources we have it would have to be shiraz……but you definitely wouldn't want to leave out grenache in that and into the future sagrantino may rival these.

Explore Chester Osborne's wines

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